During his state visit to Greece, Turkish President Erdogan sharply criticised Athens‘ discrimination against the Turkish-Muslim minority in Western Thrace. Otherwise, Turkey would not be able to recognise the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
At a joint press conference with his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday during a visit to Athens, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the first Turkish president in Greece for 65 years, said that ethnic Turks living in the West Thrace region are discriminated against, while the Greeks in Turkey have greater privileges.
The necessary assistance should be given to those living in Western Thrace. They are discriminated against,“ Erdogan said.
He noted that Muslims in the Greek border region are not allowed to vote for their Grand Mufti, whereas such a situation does not exist in the Patriarchate in Turkey. This is a violation of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.
„Even writing the word‘ Turkish‘ is not allowed in Western Thrace“, the Turkish head of state remarked. „We must address such issues.“
„How can you claim that the Treaty of Lausanne is still in force? Lausanne is not in force. We have to prove the applicability of Lausanne by implementing it“, said Erdogan.
In addition, the leader noted that Greece would not leave without the support of the. Ankara regards Greece as a neighbour.
The election of the Muftis has been a problem for the Turkish-Muslim minority in the border region of Western Thrace in Greece since 1991. The problem was covered by the Athens Treaty of 1913 and the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which also guarantees the Turkish freedom of religion in Greece. However, Greece began appointing muftis in 1991, against the interests of the minority. Approximately 145,000 Muslim Turks live in the West Thrace region of Greece.